Guns: Carbine Musings, Part 3 - Light Makes Might
When I first started shooting, having a light mounted on your long gun was viewed as an extravagance or an affectation, something that was more suited for SWAT teams than the average Joe.
Times have changed. Thanks to LED technology, lights have gotten smaller, brighter, and more durable. More importantly, people have realized that even during daylight hours, there are plenty of places that are dark enough to make having a weaponlight a necessity.
Of course, where you mount a weaponlight is almost as important as whether you have it mounted at all. Clamping a pistol-style light (like a Streamlight TLR-1) to the foreend of your rifle is certainly expedient. With this setup, however, the light is usually so far back from the muzzle that a lot of the beam will be blocked by your barrel, reducing the light reaching the target.
Mounting a conventional tube-shaped flashlight as far forward as possible alleviates this problem. Here's the solution I've settled on...
Viking Tactics Offset Light Mount review
Mounting a light to your AR can be expensive. Duty-grade equipment (say, a SureFire host, Malkoff lamp, and LaRue mount) can easily cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars. If you're unsure whether you'll ever fire a shot in anger from your rifle, it doesn't make sense to spend that kind of cash on a weaponlight setup, especially if you're on a budget.
So, if you're like me and you're "lighting the cheap seats," a cheapo flashlight and mount combo is the only way to go. I've long been a fan of the 4Sevens Quark Tactical flashlights, so I searched for an inexpensive weapon mount that would fit the Quark's unusual 0.86" diameter tube. The Viking Tactics Offset Light Mount seemed like it might work:
The VTAC unit is all plastic, and includes four screws and a wrench for attaching to a rail. It takes a little jimmying, but you can squeeze open the mounting rings just enough to fit the Quark's endcap diameter. The end result can accommodate almost any user. Mounted on the bottom of the handguard, you can use a tennis-racket style VFG grip. Mounted on the top, it's easy to access the light with the thumb-alongside-bore method:
This setup has proven to be rugged enough for my purposes; after many hundreds of rounds and travel back and forth from the range, the VTAC mount and Quark flashlight still work fine. All in all, I think the mount was well worth the $25 asking price.